Syria in the Nation's Capital
Caesar Act: Last week, the House approved bipartisan legislation that if passed by the Senate could subject Russian-backed allies in Libya to sanctions over its support and cooperation with the Assad regime. Approved by voice vote, the Libya Stabilization Act (HR 4644) includes a provision requiring the White House submit a list of members of the Libyan National Army loyal to Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar to be designated pursuant to the Caesar Act (P.L. 116-92) and a 2011 executive order. In March, Haftar’s regime agreed to establish diplomatic relations with Damascus, signing an agreement to confront “Turkish aggression” in Libya and Syria.
Justice Rewards Legislation: Last week, lawmakers unanimously approved a measure (HR 4802) that would authorize financial rewards for information regarding individuals or entities engaged in activities that violate U.S. and international sanctions. During floor debate, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) who introduced the measure, and Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) in their remarks highlighted that the legislation was inspired by Bassam Barabandi, a former Syrian diplomat and defector, who provided information on Assad regime officials and allies who violate U.S. sanctions. “I thank Bassam Barabandi for his courage as a patriot for the people of Syria in the face of the evil Assad regime”, said Wilson.
ISIS Detainee Threat: The head of the U.S. Central Command, Maj. Gen. Frank McKenzie Jr., reiterated that unless the global community repatriates citizens who traveled to Syria to fight for ISIS, the group will remain an everlasting security threat. Speaking at a conference hosted by the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, McKenzie intoned ISIS’ propaganda activities in refugee camps in Syria and Iraq targeting children poses a strategic problem 10 years ahead when they grow up radicalized. If this issue is not addressed then ISIS will never be defeated, he said.